Iran's top military commander says if Israel uses a military attack against their nuclear work, there will be nothing left of Israel. He basically acknowledges ties to the miltant groups that are right on the Israeli borders. Such an attack, he says further, would automtically take Iran out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (not that they want to build a nuclear weapon, though); and could result in closing the strait of Hormuz. They've threatened that before, but, of course, it would also strangle them and all their oil-rich potential allies as well (if they don't have enough refinery capacity to use their oil themselves).

In view of these kinds of threats, does it really make sense for us not to take an aggressive position in developing our own energy resources and working very closely with Canada, one of the consistently most reliable of our allies (not to mention a very well-mannered neighbor which shares many of our own basic values)?

Is the danger to the environment any greater from responsible development of our North American resources than it is from a nuclear Iran? The Canadians offered an alternate route for Keystone XL, but Pres wants another 3 years (presumably) to evaluate the new route as well. By then a lot of that oil could be heading to China (or elsewhere).

If we want to avoid a confrontation of a military nature, suppose the Pres simply announced tomorrow that the XL is approved, and the US would be aggressively pursuing energy independence now. Maybe solar or wind (or whatever) will be the key to the future ... but we've got to get to the future before Iran has nuclear capability.

This is a non-military approach that would put them on notice that their oil threats will carry little value in the "diplomatic" process. We would not be using any military confrontation ... just using our energy policy for our own country as the deterrent.

If we don't need ME oil, it solves a lot of problems. Those nasty dictators no longer have so much income with which to buy arms. They lose their leverage on threatening energy deprivation. Their whole economic situation will change without oil revenues, or dramatically decreased oil revenues. Then they can fight among themselves for the survival of their economies.

Do you think they're smart enough to realize that if we are energy independent, the significance of the ME decreases a whole lot in the big picture? It would sure get China and Russia's attention as well. They might become more willing to support the US in some of these rogue nation situations. Not because they suddenly love us ... but purely for pragmatic reasons.

Does it make any sense at all to rely upon those who want to see our destruction for the energy it requires to defend ourselves if we need to?

I'd incorporate Mike's idea of closing any embassy that is attacked in any of these countries. Cutting off all foreign aid to those countries goes without saying.

This kind of option was not available to previous administrations since the extent of the newly discovered energy reserves was not verified/validated until more recently.

Imagine such a statement:

"We no longer wish to offend Islam. We shall develop our own energy resources and leave the Muslim world in peace. We will no longer offer foreign aid to countries where it might offend the citizens.

We shall not waiver in defending Israel's borders, nor those of our European allies or our own, but we shall remove all military presence from anywhere in the ME, unless we are specifically invited to your country. If we are invited to any country, we will leave peacefully at the first sign that it causes unrest in that country or to its neighbors.

All troops in Iraq, A'stan and all other Muslim nations will be peacefully be withdrawn as soon as possible. We shall close all embassies in Muslim nations, unless we are specifically asked to remain.

If we are asked to remain, we will expect our diplomatic personnel to be made safe; we will have sufficient military in those embassies to protect our diplomatic personnel. At the first sign of any aggression toward an embassy, it will be closed and evacuated. It will not be re-opened until the safety of the diplomatic personnel is guaranteed.

We shall not interfere with any nation's pursuit of peace within its borders and with its neighbors, to choose its own leaders, resolve its own disputes, and care its citizens."

Obviously that also means that we will let Syria work out its own problems. We can give an opinion, but nothing more. We can send medical/humanitarian aid (if we can assure it gets to those who need it, not black market goods), but only if both sides of the dispute guarantee the safety of thos humanitarian workers. If that seems heartless, it may not be. When we step in, it seems like even more of the innocents get killed. So, it may be more humanitarian to stay out of it?